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Many of 19 arrested in drug sweep say they are not part of scheme

A task force of Lansing police and federal agents arrested 19 city residents on state or federal drug charges over several days in January. Despite the Lansing police chief's early claim that the 19 suspects "are responsible for a majority of our violent crime in our city," several of those arrested say they do not know each other and that they are not part of any drug dealing conspiracy.

The police chief later retracted her claims. Instead, she said that they suspects are "responsible for a lot of criminal activity ... in the past two years." The charges against the suspects include drug trafficking and possession of a gun with a felony record. It appears that none of the 19 has been charged with a violent crime so far.

The arrests came after a two-year investigation by a joint task force made up of Lansing police officers and agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Another claim being made by Lansing police is that the suspects "have common links," perhaps suggesting that they make up a criminal gang. However, attorneys for three of the suspects say that their clients have no connections with the others. One defense attorney noted that his client, who has been charged in federal court, is at least 20 years older than the other federally-charged suspects.

Mass arrests like this one demonstrate the zeal with which local and federal authorities are seeking drug-related arrests. Anyone who is arrested on suspicion of drug dealing or related crimes should speak with a criminal defense attorney before answering the police's questions.

Source: Lansing State Journal, "Lansing police chief tones down comments linking group to most city crime," Kevin Grasha, Jan. 18, 2013

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